Harvard University researcher and longevity expert, Dr. David Sinclair is famous for saying that to increase longevity, simply “eat less often”. Just like humans, scientific research suggests pets can also benefit from intermittent fasting. It can actually extend their lives.
What is Fasting?
Fasting does not suggest starvation. Back in the days before commercially processed pet foods were available, most domestic animals were fed a homemade diet. Their feeding plan was based on the idea of natural rearing. It involved feeding pets cereals, veggies, meats, and adding herbal supplements. The natural rearing regime encompassed fasting which was done intermittently. It was thought to be good for overall health and could also speed up recovery during illness by boosting the immune system.
The concept of fasting may seem extraordinary to many of us; however, it simply mimics animal behaviour in the wild where food is not always available. Even the most efficient hunters would go without food some days. It is typical for animals to go without food for one to two days at a time. Also, sick animals would probably not feel up to catching food and would go without eating. This imposed break allowed the digestive system to take a break and the body to repair and heal itself.
Self Healing Kicks Into Action
Have you ever wondered just why you or your pets do not get hungry when either of you feels ill? Did you know this is the body's natural way of telling you it does not need food and needs time to heal itself?
Here is how it works inside the body: During fasting, the body starts to recognize the process and immediately commences the healing process. See it as a kind of adrenaline that begins to form. The typical fuel (food) that enters the body, is no longer feeding the body (and the bad cells), making the bad cells weak and allowing the good cells to take over. When the good cells take over, they will begin to eliminate the bad cells because they have now become weak. The longer the fasting is, the more healing takes place. There will come a time when the body needs fuel, and one must never ignore these signs. Fasting is good to heal the body, and must never be confused with wanting to lose weight. These are two different perspectives, even though they might follow a similar route.
Benefits Of Fasting for Pets
Fasting basically permits the body to get rid of amassed waste products like toxins which are stored in fat reserves and the liver over time. Also, fasting helps tissues to regenerate and repair, subsequently boosting digestion and overall health. The idea is to restore the body’s natural balance to prevent chronic health issues like joint, skin, and heart conditions. By intermittently fasting your pets, it prevents obesity in animals which has become a major problem in modern society.
11 Benefits of Fasting for Pets
- Enhanced blood pressure
- Regulated blood sugar levels
- Enhanced brain function
- Boosts metabolism
- Supports weight loss
- Lowering inflammation levels
- Preventing neurodegenerative disorders
- Assists longevity
- Lowers bad cholesterol levels
- Slows ageing
- Could lower the growth of tumours and even completely kill cancer.
Are you taking your pets for regular check-ups? If money is an issue, why not consider pet insurance? A more affordable way to provide your best friend with the care he or she deserves.
RELATED: 6 Best oils for dogs and cats
How Long Should You Fast Your Dog?
Dogs that live in the wild can survive without food for long periods. Even rescued dogs that are domesticated can go without food for a while. Some are found on the verge of starvation. However, the idea of fasting is not to starve your dog, but rather to improve longevity with controlled fasting for 24 hours. It is recommended to do this once a week or for healthy dogs once a month.
How Long Should You Fast Your Cat?
Cats cannot survive without water, in fact, it is the most essential nutrient in their diet. Drinking plenty of water is quintessential to a cat’s health. Two-thirds of their bodies consist of water, and it is also the core of all chemical processes in their bodies. Most water content for cats comes from raw food. If you are fasting your cat, make sure he has enough fresh water. Controlled fasting for cats should be for 12-24 hours a few times monthly.
Different Ways to Fast Your Pets
- A 24-hour fast once a week or month. This entails having access to water but no food.
- Replacing a day’s meals with just raw bones.
- Restrict your pet’s feeding to just once a day for 2-3 days maximum.
- Limit treats and only stick to food with no snacking in between.
- Choose one day per week to have a vegetarian day with no animal protein. This is not recommended for cats since protein is a requirement for them to survive. However, it is a fantastic way to give your dog’s digestive system a time-out.
- Spend more time with your pet during this day, to help with the distraction.
- While fasting is good for humans and pets, it might be even better to join your pet in this journey to optimum health by also fasting on the same day.
- Young animals, like puppies and kittens must never be exposed to fasting.
The next time your pet is very ill, keep in mind how the body naturally functions to heal itself. To prepare you and your pets for healthy longevity, consider fasting as part of your lifestyle.